Boxing is a great cardio workout. So, when Liteboxer asked if I would be interested in giving the company’s tech-aided boxing workouts – which aim to give you the experience of sparring with an actual partner even when you’re home alone – a try, I was excited to supplement my usual Peloton rides. Throw in the exhilaration of being able to punch something after more than two years of a global pandemic, and I was sold on the idea of taking out my frustrations with Liteboxer.
Right now there are two ways to get a Liteboxer workout; you can either use the company’s own hardware or go for the full VR experience with an app on the Oculus Meta Quest. Liteboxer provided me with demo units of the Liteboxer device and the Oculus Meta Quest so I could give both a go. I also got the chance to sit down with Liteboxer CEO Jeff Morin for an exclusive discussion about where the idea for Liteboxer came from, how the company has grappled with the challenges of Covid-19 and why he sees huge potential in metaverse fitness (you can check out that Q&A here).
Let’s start with the actual Liteboxer unit. My first impression of the Liteboxer hardware was that it is like the old 1980s game Simon because you get to punch a corresponding light up pad as you box.
The device itself looks like a stop sign (but in all black). It functions like a heavy bag made into a smart device. The large shield has six sensors that light up in patterns indicating where you should punch next. Lights run out from the center of the shield and towards one of the six sensors. The goal is to punch the target as those red lights hit the center of the shield. A correct hit triggers the sensor to light up green while a missed hit lights up red.
Right out of the box, the Liteboxer is pretty easy to set up. It’s heavy, but simple to put together. The one negative to the hardware is that the shelf that holds the tablet that runs the class is located at knee level – making it a bit difficult to see what the instructors and trainers are doing when the user is a novice boxer. It comes with the tools to assemble it, as well as boxing gloves and hand wraps.
The footprint of the Liteboxer with the platform is nearly as large as a home treadmill – it’s a bit wider (37.5 inches) and about two feet shorter (55.5 inches) than a typical treadmill. If you want a larger platform, a third piece can be added that gives you an extra 20 inches of boxing area.
Everything you need to box at home without a bag
So, what’s it like boxing against the sensor pad? The concept is deceptively simple – in practice the workout is tough and had me out of breath and panting within the first 60 seconds – especially when I chose the right music to accompany my workout.
Whether you want to punch the bag into submission with a Ye, Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, or a BTS song is entirely up to your mood and taste. Users can choose from punch tracks that go song by song, or training classes and sparring sessions that are also available on the Liteboxer app on your phone or tablet. Liteboxer’s library of songs is located in the Punch Tracks category. There are songs you can stream without a Liteboxer monthly membership, but the $29.99 to unlock the rest of the song catalog struck me as well worth it (and it’s still priced better than Peloton’s native app).
Workouts can last from one song to 30 minutes, and they will leave you out of breath. As you punch the shield, your stats are tracked in the Liteboxer app for overall score as well as the accuracy of your hits and the force with which the shield is hit. This makes the Liteboxer feel more like a game than a fitness device, which definitely ups the fun quotient.
If you’re interested in the full metaverse experience, the VR aspect of Liteboxer is a separate element that costs $18.99 a month. With an Oculus Meta Quest running $300 to $400, the cost of entry to this version of the Liteboxer workout is cheaper than the $1,495 plus it can run you to get the full hardware. And I found the Liteboxer VR app to be every bit as good a workout as the one on the Liteboxer unit. What’s more, with the Liteboxer VR app, the company totally succeeds at gamifying the workout.
When you enter the Liteboxer VR app, it will appear that you’re in a virtual boxing ring. The Liteboxer shield appears in front of you at what the app estimates is the correct punching level for you. To the left is the punch track that tracks the time left in your workout and/or a video of your coach.
For me, it was easier to register perfect punches within the VR app than it was on the Liteboxer unit. But in the VR app, you’re not punching an actual surface, so while the shadowboxing aspect is every bit as good a workout as punching something physical, if you have any angst or anger to take out the actual Liteboxer device might be a better solution.
The Liteboxer unit also takes up a lot of space, while the Meta Quest plus the Liteboxer VR app requires only a two foot by two foot square to use. Additionally, the Oculus is portable, so your Liteboxer workout can go with you on vacation.
Whatever version you choose, Liteboxer will humble you no matter how fit you are. I bike, swim, run, and do Bar Method classes and this boxing workout absolutely leveled me. Sweat was dripping off me and my heart was pumping. But, best of all, it’s fun and doesn’t feel like a workout at all. I ended each workout with a huge smile on my face like I’d excised the demons of my day by punching the living heck out of the Liteboxer shield.